Innovative thinking: A design tool.

This morning professional Practices began with the notion of ’thinking outside the box’. This term is often used to indicate that a process of innovative thinking should commence; to break away from common conventions (the ‘norm’ ) in order to invent fresh, developmental ideas. A small visual exercise quite literally demonstrated that one must think outside the box to link all of the dots without lifting your pen/pencil from the paper, and by using four lines only. Afterwards, John used this exercise in conjunction with an analogy of standing at a brick wall, viewing the outcome through steel bars, to suggest that often people get caught up in the immediate, most obvious attributes of a situation. Instead we need to take time to center ourselves so that we may focus on the entire issue. This way, we will have the calamity to analyse the particular issue and thus move forward into a thinking process that aims to overcome such a problem in brand new ways.

In groups we were told to come up with at least thirty innovative items that exist in the world right now. This exercise led into the discussion of how such items arose into our world; were they evolved from other previous tools/methods/practices? Why did they evolve? Over time human needs, technologies and product materials have changed. Why bother making anything at all? Because someone saw a need that had to be met and chose to find a way to fulfil it. A great example of this would be the water bottle. Before the idea of using plastic to make bottles arose, people would use items such as gourds and sheep bladders to hold their water. The plastic bottle is simply an updated version of such tools from the past.

“Innovation generally comes from an unwanted need”.

We then took a random item – a potato – and were asked to make as many innovative items/uses as we could with it. this proved to be a really fun exercise that engaged each group member into thinking up interesting uses for a potato other than just a food staple. I also enjoyed having a little giggle over the whole USA spending x amount of dollars trying to invent a zero gravity pen…while Russia just used a pencil! But hey, although it may sound silly, at least the Americans were racking their brains trying to create a new tool for use in space! This is the beauty of crazy ideas; at first they may sound useless or unnecessary – but something amazing could be the end result of all the hard work and thinking gone into it.

Lastly, we finished off with the egg challenge! Each team had to make a way for their egg to survive a three storey drop. Only seven sheets of paper were allowed to be used for this challenge. After some discussion and quick sketching, my team started to make a cone shaped funnel that we would use to catch our egg. The egg would be wrapped in two layers of paper to help keep it safe. All of the teams had good fun dropping the eggs and watching as they landed with an unsatisfactory cracking sound. i loved the cheekiness or John and Hazel with their fake egg gimmick. All of the fun and games also opened my eyes into the whole innovative process aspect of the exercise. I realised afterward that we hadn’t really picked apart the egg as an item. The egg is an oval shape which affects the way in which it falls to earth. We could have created a kind of outer shell that caters to the eggs natural design…perhaps it might fall the way in which an egg does…and survive…until next time!

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